President Donald Trump issued his first public reaction to special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials for interfering in the presidential election. And in a familiar move, he decided to point the finger at his predecessor for failing to do “something about” the interference in the election. He also got into conspiracy theory territory by questioning whether the “deep state” had played a role in the case.
Trump, who will be meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Monday, wrote a series of tweets Saturday in which he sent a clear message that the indictments announced Friday had nothing to do with him or his administration. “The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration,” the president tweeted from Scotland before going to play golf. “Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?”
A few hours later, Trump once again took up the issue and expanded his accusation against Obama, laying out exactly why he thinks his predecessor failed to act on the hacking. “Why didn’t Obama do something about it? Because he thought Crooked Hillary Clinton would win, that’s why,” Trump wrote. “Had nothing to do with the Trump Administration, but Fake News doesn’t want to report the truth, as usual!”
Trump also questioned how authorities responded to the hacking, wondering why FBI agents didn’t “take possession” of the DNC server. “Deep State?” he wrote in an apparent endorsement of a conspiracy theory that claims a group of unelected officials really runs the government behind the scenes.
With this Twitter comments, Trump is building on a statement issued by the White House Friday that emphasized none of those indicted are American and that there is no evidence the interference in the election affected the result. “As Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said today: ‘There is no allegation in this indictment that Americans knew that they were corresponding with Russians. There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime. There is no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result’,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement issued Friday.
This was also not the first time Trump pointed the finger at his predecessor in response to indictments by the special counsel. “Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?” Trump wrote on Twitter in February, shortly after a group of Russian nationals and businesses were indicted for interfering with the 2016 election.
Hours before the latest indictments were announced, Trump vowed that he would bring the issue of election interference when he meets with Putin. But the U.S. president also made it clear he doesn’t actually expect the Russian leader to accept any blame. “I will absolutely bring that up. I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it. I did it. You got me.’ There won’t be a Perry Mason here, I don’t think. But you never know what happens, right? But I will absolutely firmly ask the question,” Trump said Friday.